Where’s my inner Pope?

Pope John Paul II visiting with Mehmet Ali Ağca.

Pope John Paul II visiting with Mehmet Ali Ağca.

On May 13, 1981, while entering St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City, Pope John Paul II was shot four times with a 9mm Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol. Two of the bullets landed in the Pope’s lower intestine. Another hit his finger, the fourth his arm. He lost a ton of blood, and nearly died.

Two years later, the Pope visited the assailant, a man named Mehmet Ali Ağca, and—inside a prison cell—forgave him. Hell, he didn’t merely forgive him. He petitioned the Italian government for Agca to be pardoned. Which, amazingly, he was.

I was 9 when that happened. Yet, for some reason, it’s stuck with me. The compassion. The decency. The willingness to forgive something so awful. I know he was the Pope, and Popes are supposed to do stuff like that. But … still. It would have been easy to hold a grudge; to speak the right words but, beneath his breath, wish nothing but hell and Osmond music for Mehmet Ali Ağca.

As I write this, I’m trying to get a little Pope in me. About an hour ago, I was inside my house, applying cream to the stitches that hold my dog Norma together. I wrote about this earlier in the week, but my beloved little cockapoo was ripped apart in a pretty vicious dog attack last week. The culprit was a neighborhood dog, who belongs to very nice people.

I want to be forgiving and gracious. I really, really do. And yet … I haven’t spoken to the people since it happened. They haven’t spoken to us. It feels awkward, probably because it is awkward. I had to pay a nearly $3,000 medical bill (thus far) for Norma’s care. My kids—who absolutely love the pooch—want nothing to do with her. Her body is disgusting. Bruises, cuts, the zipped stitches. It’s a nasty thing. Worst of all, Norma’s not herself. She’s a genuinely peppy dog who’s lost her pep. She’s hiding beneath furniture. She’s barely eating. When I raise my hand to pet her, she flinches. It’s hard to watch. Really, really, really hard to watch.

I feel like I’m being irrational. The people certainly didn’t know their dog would attack. It was awful for them. No doubt.

And yet … here I sit, kind of stewing.

I need some Pope magic.

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2 thoughts on “Where’s my inner Pope?”

  1. The Pope knew who was culpable, that’s worth a lot of the confusion that you are experiencing trying to figure it out. He also had two years to think on it.

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